The Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture is an interdisciplinary forum created to discuss research related to images of slavery and the slave trade as well as the creation and use of  images and objects by enslaved peoples and slaveholders. Our aim is to explore the multivalent relationship between slavery and visual cultures, examining themes such as visuality and memory of the slave trade; the role of the gaze and surveillance in slave societies and societies with slaves; regional comparisons of visual regimes associated with slavery; visual culture’s connection to racialized regimes of slavery; and the roles played by self-fashioning and the accumulation of visual capital by the enslaved.

Check out our newly released 2023-2024 schedule.

Want to receive our messages and events in your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Visit our latest digital exhibit, Palimpsests: Visual Idioms of Enslavement in the Nineteenth Century and their Afterlives, curated by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Isabela Fraga.


Header image: Landscapes (2023), image conceptualized by Marc Harkness, Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, and Isabela Fraga, from our Palimpsests digital exhibit. The image is based on Jason Mason, after George Robertson: The Spring Head of Roaring River (1779, line engraving, Yale Center for British Art); Joseph Bartholomew Kidd: Plantain Trees (c. 1840, colored lithograph); and Leasho Johnson: Image from Death of a Soundboy (2020, handmade print).